Hercule Poirot: "So, are you saying that Central London is now at risk?"
Tom Courtenay: "I’m afraid so."
In the beginning there was The Towering Inferno
. I remember watching it in the little cinema in Tenby, years ago. It was all about a skyscraper which set on fire: this could be seen as entertainment in those oh-so-innocent days before the horrific events of 9/11. It even had Fred Astaire in it, though he wasn’t asked to put on his top hat and tails and dance, sadly.
It spawned a whole genre of films known as Disaster Movies, each one trying to be more spectacular than the last. Earthquake!
With glorious Sensurround!
They were all basically the same - - we get to know and – hopefully – to care about the characters, and then some of them die heroically, and some fall in love, and some emerge, battered and bruised, at the end, and the man who’s done something bad in the past redeems himself and then dies.
Now they have made a really rather remarkable remake of the whole genre, and it’s called Flood
, and I’m watching it now, and it lends a whole new meaning to the phrase “unbelievably dreadful.”.
It has an all-star cast, and oh, boy, does it need it, because they have been given some of the most unsayable lines to be found on screen ever. Just to give you the flavour, I have jotted down some of them for you.
"You need to go to the Thames Barrier - - there’s a problem!"
Hercule Poirot – oh, okay then, David Suchet - is the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister – whoever he or she is – is conveniently away in Australia.
Scotland Yard is represented by Joanne Whalley, whom many of you blokes will remember with something approaching tremendous affection – oh, okay, mostly lust then – as the very attractive nurse who had to put cream on Michael Gambon’s bits in The Singing Detective
whilst he tried very hard to think about anything that wasn’t erotic.
Okay, men - - that’s enough of thinking about Joanne Whalley in her nurse’s uniform, can you come back to my blog please? Hello? Shall we hear another line from Flood
"We’ve lost Tony to the storm. For his sake, please, hear your father out!"
Poor old Tony found himself in Scotland at the beginning of the programme, and since the whole thing started with Wick suddenly getting covered in water, we knew that Tony was a goner, because let’s face it, this is a programme about London and so anyone in any bit of Scotland is completely expendable (sorry Malc
). Tony was the equivalent of those extras in Star Trek
who are the first ones on the new planet, and you’ve never seen them before, and you’re sure as hell never going to see them again because we all know they’ll be dead in the first minute.
Tom Courtenay’s the father who’s neglected his family. What did Robert Carlyle – he who used to be Hamish MacBeth
and was then in The Full Monty
– say about him?
"The only thing he cares about - - dramatic pause – is himself!"
And Tom’s playing Professor Morrison who gave the Awful Warning that the storm was going to be far worse than anyone suspected. Anyone suspected, that is, except me. And anyone else watching, obviously. At the start of the programme Tom was at his grand-daughter’s christening in what I think – though it may have been too subtle – was a kind of metaphor - - christening - - water - - geddit?
Let’s have a few more lines from it, shall we?
"Sir, with all due respect, this storm is not behaving within expected parameters."
"Why weren’t we given any warning?"
"When this gets out there’s going to be panic on an unprecedented scale."
"I never believed this could happen!"
I’m not giving you any more. Every line’s like that. I can’t write them down fast enough. Did I mention the dramatic music that never stops for a moment? Did I mention how the picture freezes on a close-up of, say, Hercule Poirot, and says things like:
“Scotland Yard. 9.58am.”
Nigel Planer’s in it too, he who was the long-haired hippie in The Young Ones
In response to ""So the worst of it’s over?" he replied
"I believe so."
Well, we didn’t believe so. There are hours and cruel, interminable hours of it to go. It carries on tomorrow night. As I write Robert Carlyle and some American bird have jumped off the Thames Barrier and are floundering around in the water. People are panicking all over the country. I expect they’re trying to get away from their television sets and start playing Scrabble instead..
As a movie, it’s certainly a disaster. This has been Daphne watching it, so you don’t have to, and writing this on the laptop in front of the television, because I couldn’t wait until the end to slag it off.
Let us think of better films. May the Fourth be with you.